Here’s the best ramen in Tokyo, what it’s made of, what it tastes like, and where to find the bowls of steaming hot – or cool and fresh – soup in the capital of Japan!
Best Ramen in Tokyo
Burari – Nippori Station – 5-Chome 52-5 Higashinippori
To find your way to this small restaurant, you must take an alley, then a second, which eventually leads into this tiny spot that serves the “tori-paitan” soup i.e. a strong flavoured, thick chicken broth. The chicken flavor is undeniable! A hard-boiled egg, sliced chashu (a traditional pork roulade), white radishes and green onions complete the portrait and make it even more pleasant and tasteful. The noodles are relatively thin but are made with so little liquid ingredients such that it is almost possible to taste the flour that was used. This makes for a very a unique taste!
SAUCE AT THE BOTTOM
Banninriki – Iriya Station – 2-Chome 25 Tōkyō-to, Taito-ku, Iriya.
Here, the service is more generous than in some other restaurants: a separate menu in English explains how you can make your selection at the vending machine, and an instruction sheet describes the ultimate technique so one can appreciate the real value of the meal. This is more a plate of noodles than soup. A small amount of a very salty broth is hidden at the bottom of a large bowl of thick, inter wound noodles. The toppings are displayed as different options on the menu of the vending machine. Here the poached egg is so soft that it just stretches and thickens the sauce and the whole bowl become perfectly creamy. The noodles here are also not very soft: they require a certain amount of chewing before they can break, which obviously adds to the quality of the dish.
Menya Musashi – Shinjuku Station – 7-Chome 2-6, Shinjuku-ku.
This is one of the most renowned ramen shops. Usually ramen restaurants are completely devoid of decoration. Here, however, it is superb: colors of red and brown, paintings and tables of classic Japanese style along with trinkets and dark wood offer an extraordinary and vibrant environment. The food of choice: cold Tsukemen. It’s a large cold pasta dish served alongside a hyper-seasoned and concentrated broth, in this case a pork broth. The noodles are extra al dente, and the cold broth is very strong. The condiments equally do not disappoint: excellent chashu; marinated boiled egg in soya sauce; and one of the best pieces of roasted pork flank that’s ever given to eat in a restaurant.
Mugi to Olive – Higashiginza Station – 6-12-12 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo Mugi to.
Mugi to Olive is in the elegant neighborhood of Ginza, and since rents are extremely expensive and space is so rare, the eight-seat restaurant is in the basement of a large building and shares space with three other restaurants. Ginza is close to Tsukiji, the largest fish market in the world. So it seems quite natural to serve fish ramen. The broth, here at Mugi to Olive, is a mixture of fish and chicken. The dish is prepared in order to bring the stock to the forefront: just a few slices of pork and leek decorate the soup. The fish flavor is very strong and the aroma permeates the room, but the taste is relatively subtle.
Gaku – Suehirocho Station – 3-Chome Chiyoda 8-7, Sotokanda.
The exterior of this restaurant is decorated with a dozen red, black and white flags, and the logo is displayed on at least four locations, a publicity style used almost everywhere in Tokyo. Yet inside, the decor could not be more sober. Here, two choices are available: ramen tonkotsu (pork soup) or Tsukemen tonkotsu (cold noodles and, separately, a concentrated broth). The noodles are decorated with pickled ginger, a sheet of nori, a boiled egg, slices of chashu and a barely seasoned pork roast. The broth is rich and tastes of sesame oil. Here too, the noodles are perfect, and the sauce does not take up all the space. This is a dish that deserves to be enjoyed, but everyone eats as fast as they can, because a queue is already taking shape outside.
CHICKEN AND SOYA SAUCE
Daiki – Yushima Station – 3-Chome 47-2 Bunkyo, Yushima.
This is a well-known and relatively traditional place for serving the best ramen in Tokyo. There is almost always a queue outside this restaurant at lunchtime. The soup is a combination of chicken broth and soya sauce. Unfortunately the broth has a little something that reminds of Lipton soup … The noodles are thin and definitely have something special, and that’s most probably the reason why so many people flock to this spot which is somewhat far from public transportation. Condiments include: white radish, sprouts of green peas, green onions, pickled ginger, half hard-boiled egg, ground pork, a little dehydrated seaweed and a few slices of chashu.